More and more young children are experiencing 'complex trauma'. That has created a need for added mental health services. As part of our on-going Mental Health Initiative, WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley toured Gatway Longview's new Northtown Behavioral Health Clinic in Williamsville to reach more youth.
The smell of fresh paint floated through the newly renovated space on the Gateway Longview campus is off Main Street. The building is called Dwyer Cottage.
Kristy D'Angelo is vice president of Behavioral Health Services at Gateway. This clinic was created to serve a 'fast-growing' need for mental health services and will serve children ages 3 to 21 years of age.
“This was a house at one point, so it’s not institutionalized that I think some people have in their head – that if you’re receiving mental treatment you’re going into the ice cold walls and those dark, cold hallways – and that’s not what this is about at all, said D'Angelo.
D'Angelo tells WBFO News mental illness is becoming more complicated.
“What we are seeing is a lot of trauma – a lot ‘complex trauma’ and that gets more complicated with the suicide ideations and the presentation of self-harm, phobias, anxiety and depression. We have a lot of kids that are diagnosed with ADHD and depression, so that all those things get really complicated when you are trying to navigate through live too on top of it as a young children,” remarked D'Angelo.
The agency already serves about 800-children at its downtown Buffalo clinic. It also has 35-satiellite locations at schools in Erie and Niagara Counties.
“I think something that makes us, Gateway, very unique is that we do not have a wait list for psychiatric services where a lot of agencies have six months – eight months wait for psychiatry and we don’t, so there is a process. It may take you about three or four weeks to get in, but that’s because we want to make sure we are entering you into the service under the right context,” explained D'Angelo.
The outpatient clinic makes sure ther is a treatment plan for the child.
“Your treatment plan will be established in collaboration with the family,” D'Angelo replied. “We worked collaboratively with your primary physician so everybody’s on the same page and understands if there’s medications being prescribed or if there’s consultation needs that are needed – we all know that nobody is being redundant.”
Last year 53-percent of the youth treated at Gateway outpatient clinics were under the age of 12. D'Angelo said more people are beginning to recognize its okay to examine a child’s mental health as preventive measure.